The Canadian Alpine Ski Team may be internationally renowned for its depth in the alpine speed events but at slalom races in Levi, Finland this past weekend the technical squad showed depth of a different kind, with six male and female athletes qualifying for second runs and placing in the top-30 - a rare but welcome show of consistency in a technical event.
At the front of the pack on the men's side was Whistler's Michael Janyk, who finished 14 th . His two-run combined time of 1:51.46 was less than half a second back of a top-10 result.
Trevor White of Calgary placed 22 nd after just making the cut in 30 th place after his first run. Julien Cousineau - snapping back from the 41 st start position earlier in the day - was 24 th .
More impressive, only 26 athletes finished in the points, with 15 skiers going off course in the first run and another four in the second.
Janyk took it all in stride.
"I had been feeling a little rushed and busy leading up to Levi but in the last couple of days I've been feeling really good and ready to race," he said. "To get that first run out of the way, it felt good to say 'okay, we're back in it.' I had a great second run, I was just too far off after the first run to make up too many places. But it feels really good to be racing again."
Three other Canadians did not qualify for a second run: Patrick Biggs, Ryan Semple and Jean-Philippe Roy.
While finishing with three athletes in the top-30 may be a milestone for the men's technical team, coach Paul Kristofic was not ready to celebrate just yet.
"I would say in the end that it was a pretty mediocre result," he said. "We saw some really good parts from all three guys today but none of them put together two really good runs.
"It gives us a very clear picture of where we are and what we need to improve. The guys came in feeling strong and came out with some clarity, and in the end some reasonable results. Nothing to get too excited about but a solid start."
Reinfried Herbst of Austria took the win by a solid margin over Croatia's Ivica Kostelic, with Jean-Baptiste Grange of France posting another solid result in third place.
Next up for Janyk is an invitational dual slalom race in Moscow on Nov. 21 before returning to Canada with the rest of his team to continue training.
On the women's side the top Canadian was Marie-Michele Gagnon, who ended her day in 14 th place. She was followed closely by teammates Anna Goodman and Brigitte Acton in 16 th and 17 th respectively.
It was Gagnon's second-best World Cup result, and Goodman's top result to date.
"I'm really happy with the team's result today, we couldn't have asked for more right now," said Goodman. "It's awesome for the whole team and it's good to finally rank higher than a top-20 and getting better results."
Maria Riesch of Germany took the gold medal, just 0.08 seconds ahead of American star Lindsay Vonn. Tanja Poutiainen of Finland was third.
The women's technical team is now in Aspen, Colorado preparing for slalom and giant slalom races on Nov. 28-29.
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